The post-WWII brick rambler is ubiquitous in the older suburbs of eastern cities. The first floor has 3 small bedroom, a hall bath, a living room, a small kitchen and a small dining room co-located either with the kitchen or the living room. They also usually have a full basement. I grew up in one — as did many of my friends — who then raised families in a different 1950’s home because they are affordable and close to urban jobs.
My client raised her family in just such a house in the Forest Glenn neighborhood of Silver spring, MD. The kids were grown and out of the house and she was configuring the home for the next phase of her life. She had a limited budget and a long-list of wants including the desire for a master suite. She expressed a desire for more daylight, generally, so we suggested we also replace an existing wide bedroom window with french doors onto an extended back patio. She jumped at the idea.
We gutted the existing hall bath switched openings and turned this bath into an in-suite bath for the master bedroom. To save money, we left the toilet in place — except for turning it 90 degrees. While the new shower and sink drains and supply lines needed to be re-run, keeping the toilet in place substantially reduced the price of the required plumbing.
Other ways we made the budget go further included using
- Formica laminate for the counters,
- Concrete-look porcelain floor tile that’s less than $5/sf,
- A Pre-formed shower pan,
- Limiting the amount of tile used, and
- Using a Personal Shower Head on a Bar to also double as the main shower head
One splurge was the use of glass tile in the shower and for the backsplash.
For storage we used a 4-drawer alder base cabinet — the same type of cabinetry used in the kitchen — with a banjo counter that extends over the toilet for additional counter space.
Grab bars were installed near the toilet and in the shower stall. The personal shower head installed on a sliding bar allows people of varying heights to enjoy the shower and also allows someone to easily take a shower while keeping her hair dry. And, of course, makes it easier to clean the shower stall.
A vessel sink is both an aesthetic choice and allows for a wheelchair accessible sink area. The size and dimensions of the bath are wheelchair compliant but we did not install a zero-threshold shower to keep costs down. A towel bar installed under the counter puts a towel within easy reach.
The Formica counters helped keep costs within budget and provide a surface that’s easy to keep clean. We also used the Formica on the side of the drawer cabinet to repel water and for a clean transition between counter heights.
See below for the old and new floor plans — The old galley kitchen became a new hall bath with wheelchair access for when her her mother visits. The old Dining room became a new eat-in kitchen.